NOT many women will venture beneath the hood of their cars, and even for those who do, it's often a hodge-podge of wires and metal and plastic parts that they can't make head or tail of. But even then, the battery is easy to spot, and with the newer types that offer a colour-coded indicator of fitness, you can proudly check every week and be assured that your battery is A-OK. Or can you?
In fact, a green indicator doesn't necessarily mean that you won't be begging for a jumpstart in the middle of the night when the car refuses to start, says Spanish Town-based mechanic Oral Palmer. Indeed, a number of other factors will determine your battery's overall wellness and it's important that you're always on top of things. So:
Keep your car battery clean
Do occasional checks to ensure that your car battery is clean. Use a baking soda solution and an old toothbrush to clean corrosion that may build up on the battery and the cables that are attached to it.
Ensure your battery is secure
Check to make sure that the battery is snug in its bracket, and that it is not rattling whenever the car is in motion, especially if you drive on bad roads often. A battery that is constantly jerking can develop short circuits and cause other electrical damage.
Drive your car often
The car battery does not charge up fully on short journeys. Every now and again, take a road trip in your car to keep your battery active and healthy. Think of it as car-dio.
Test your car battery frequently
In a warm climate such as ours, car batteries have a reduced lifetime. This means that you need to check on them frequently to ensure that they are performing optimally. You can have a trusted mechanic do a thorough test for you, but ensure that there are no cracks on the battery, and that the electrolyte (fluid in the battery) reaches the top.
Leave car electronics on when the car isn't running
Accessories such as your car radio, air conditioner and light rely heavily on the car battery, and they can run it down when they are left on for long periods when the car isn't running. And when this happens and the car won't start, not even a green indicator will get you out of needing a jump-start.
Park car in the sun for long periods
Heat is your car battery's enemy. It already produces a lot of heat, so you want to ensure that you keep it cool for it to last longer. Always find a shady spot to park in if a garage is not available.
Remove the positive cable first
When removing your car battery, it is important that you disconnect the negative cable first in order to avoid a possible short circuit. Also observe to ensure that anyone who handles your battery does the same.
Ignore the warning signs
If your lights are suddenly dull or flickering and you smell something like sulphur while driving, you need to check your battery. Don't wait for the car to go dead for you to pay attention to it. It might be something simple, but you could also be saving your battery's life by checking out the warning signs.